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Trial and settlement negotiations between asymmetrically skilled parties

By Bertrand Chopard, Thomas Cortade and Eric Langlais

Abstract

Parties engaged in a litigation generally enter the discovery process with different informations regarding their case and/or an unequal endowment in terms of skill and ability to predict the outcome at trial. This results in different legal costs to assess the plaintiff's win rate. The paper analyses pretrial negotiations and revisits the selection hypothesis in the case where these legal expenditures are private information. Our general result is that pretrial negotiations select cases with the smallest legal expenditures as those going to trial, while cases with largest costs prefer to settle. Under the one-sided asymmetric information assumption, we find in contrast to the usual finding of the literature, that the American rule yields more trials and higher aggregate legal expenditures than the French and British rules. The two-sided case leads to a higher rate of trials, but in contrast provides less clear-cut predictions regarding the influence of fee-shifting.Litigation Unilateral and bilateral asymmetric information Legal expenditures

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